10 Superfoods for 2018

By Sarah Senter, LAc / @medicine_kitchen / written for Love Child Mag. 

As we learn from & move beyond the 2017 ascension of matcha, bone broth, and collagen powders, new healing foods are re-cycling & ready to make their next mark on our modern world. Here are my picks for the best new (to you) superfoods to try this year. All of these selections are based on an evolution of what has been trending in the wellness world lately combined with some traditional favorites that always deserve a new place in the kitchen. If you want to eat for your highest potential, try to incorporate some of these culinary dynamos into your life. Cheers to good health and happiness in 2018!

1 / Moringa. Moringa is one of the most nourishing and detoxifying plants on the planet. This is a powerful combination as it can cleanse many different parts of the body like the liver, spleen and blood - but it can also enhance digestion, strengthen the immune system, and has 25x more iron than spinach and 7x more vitamin C than an orange. There is a good reason for the buzz about this superfood and why it’s worth experimenting with in the new year. Try cooking with it in soups if you can find it fresh in your Asian market, or sipping as a tea.

2 / Functional Mushrooms. Mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, chaga, and turkey tail have long been used for their immune benefits in eastern cultures. They have a high concentration of germanium, which is an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhances immunity. The king of them all is the Reishi mushroom (which we know as Ling Zhi in Chinese medicine) but some of the lesser known fungi are becoming popularized and we will see more variation in how they are all consumed this year! (Mushroom lattes are here, folks!)

3 / Einkorn flour. Einkorn is an ancestral wheat flour that has not been altered or hybridized in any way since the dawn of agriculture. It is considered a pure form of “single grain” wheat since only one grain is attached to each stem (instead of up to groups of 4 grains in modern wheat varieties) and is much easier to digest the way that nature intended it to be. I think we will be seeing more of this grain as small farms are starting to cultivate it - and those of us with gluten sensitivity may find we can tolerate this wheat much easier than conventional types!

4 / Wild Rose. People are attracted to the beauty of food now more than ever. Floral herbs (rose, jasmine, chrysanthemum, lavender) are going to rise up this year as they are supremely lovely to look at while also having very useful health benefits. Rose is a wonderful plant for calming the spirit, reducing stress, calming redness in the skin, & slowly the aging process. Combine it with other herbs in a hot tea, add it into a hot bath, infuse it into your hot chocolate or skincare products…. the ideas are endless.

5 / (More) Fermented Foods. Everything will be fermented this year. It’s a good thing, too, since so many people need fermented foods for their gut health and immunity! Try home fermentation experiments - make your own sourdough bread starter or caraway-seeded sauerkraut, to start.

6 / Coconut yogurt. There is a lot going on in the alternative yogurt arena. Look for more companies making non-dairy, no-additive coconut yogurt or almond yogurt. Pure coconut yogurt is extremely high in fat and is lusciously creamy, but expensive. My trick is to buy 1-2 per week and eat half the cup at a time with loads of healthy toppings to make 2-4 servings. The coconut meat is very filling anyway so it works like a charm!

7 / Sardines. Sardines are generally so under appreciated and I hope that changes in 2018. They truly are a superfood. These oily little fish provide so many nutrients & fatty acids and some of the best, convenient protein you can find. Toss them on a salad or with your pasta, stuff your avocado with them, eat them with crackers, make them into sardine-cakes - we will all find new, modern ways of incorporating these gems this year.

8 / Liver. As pioneers of the wellness world keep going further back to traditional food ways, you can expect to see the resurgence of cooking with organ meats. Liver is a great place to start if you are new to this practice, especially if you are woman. Liver is extremely high in vitamin A, folate, iron, and B12 - which are all essential elements for women who are trying to conceive or suffering from any anemia. You can sauté liver with a little ghee, onion, and herbs, or make a light and delicious liver paté with some white wine in your food processor.

9 / Breakfast Salads. Vibrant, fresh foods will be climbing up the ladder towards breakfast more and more and I predict the Breakfast Salad is going to boom this year! Think fresh leafy greens with a scoop of cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, berries, avocado, sauerkraut, a slice of bacon or poached egg, roasted veggies from the night before all piled up together in a glorious bowl. Is this lunch? It could be. But it will also be breakfast in 2018. :)

10 / Ayurvedic Super Spices: Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, Turmeric. Turmeric is in everyone’s kitchen by now, but as the captivation with Ayurvedic wisdom continues we will see more of the nuances embraced. Look for more information on the uses of all of these powerful, healing spices and how to combine them for customized masalas and home remedies.

The Wellness Ritual with Alyson Fox

Today marks the beginning of a new series for Medicine Kitchen called The Wellness Ritual. This series is about inspiring people who embody what it is to lead a healthy and conscious lifestyle. These are people who value taking care of themselves, others, and the world at large. I ask them questions about their personal healing journey and the rituals they use in their lives to stay balanced and inspired both mentally and physically. I hope you enjoy! 

Alyson Fox is a designer & artist residing outside Austin, TX. She is my friend and my fitness inspiration. She also happens to be an amazing cook and curious seeker of life-enhancing methods of all sorts. 

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MK: So, I know you to be quite healthy in your habits, what is your most tried and trusted ritual for your overall health? 

AF: Honestly, snuggling with Stache (our dog). Hugging our pup close and focusing on his breathing and smelling him really helps to calm me down and makes me more present. Bringing him home from the shelter was the best gift we have given ourselves mentally. He’s so silly and easy. 

MK: When you are able to, what kind of special treatment or therapy do you use to revitalize yourself?

AF: I take a bath that I add mineral salts, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and some almond oil to. I smear a clay mask on my face and soak while reading a magazine. I also get a 10-20  min chair massage before my period.  

MK: Well, I took notes on that bath situation and will be trying that immediately! Do you have a spiritual ritual you practice? If so, what is that for you? 

AF: Laying outside on a blanket with my husband and listening to instrumental music. Stache is usually smushed between us. Also, taking my shoes off and feeling the earth beneath my feet helps me feel grounded.

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Alyson jumping on her mini-trampoline. 5-7 minutes per day for cardio and lymphatic drainage.

MK: Was there a moment in your life or reason you became more devoted to self-care and healthy living? 

AF: I was always focused on pushing my body physically from a young age. All of that caught up to me in my early thirties. I went for a run one day and felt very depleted- I’m pretty sure I cried. I stopped 5 minutes in and walked home. I started to rethink what a strong body is. I always felt that you had to exhaust yourself, sweat and eat very specific things to be healthy. Now I have a much different approach. A gentler approach where I move my body often but with softer movements. I eat whole foods but I definitely indulge. I am kinder to myself overall and listen to my body more. 

MK: Take a quick picture of something healthy you ate this week: 

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Alyson’s Coconut Milk Chia Seed Pudding made with lemon juice, date, and vanilla powder, topped with peanut butter and figs. :)

MK: What are your current favorite 2 superfoods or supplements and how do you use them? 

AF: 1. Dark chocolate- I eat several squares every- single- day!  Sometimes with cashew butter smeared on top and things like sea salt, cinnamon, black sesame seeds, fig……endless possibilities.      2. Ghee or grass fed butter. I add some to my tea with some almond milk and sometimes I smear on my lips. 

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Thanks Aly! Healing hugs for the win :)  

All images (except Aly’s pudding) by Heather Gallagher Photography. :)

Getting Sick? My Acute Self-Care Ritual

We all have supplements & vitamins we take on a daily basis for our individual needs… products we swear by and use daily for our health & beauty regimes, but what about when you are dealing with a sudden onset cold, or when you wake up with a golf ball-sized sore throat? At the VERY first signs I may be coming down with something acute - I start a very purposeful, emergency wellness ritual that I have refined over the years. There are so many useful tools for treating a cold or easing acute allergies or ear infections, so as Fräulein Maria would say - these are a few of my favorite things!

Hydrogen Peroxide / I trust using Hydrogen Peroxide almost 100% of the time when I notice an acute cold coming on. I gargle with it, and I also put a few drops down each ear for 5-10 min, then drain onto a towel. You can dilute it by 50%, but I just use it straight and rinse with water after gargling. This is just one of those measures I swear by. It will kill many bacterial microbes and pathogenic viruses that have entered the ear canal. H2O2 is always best to use right away when you notice symptoms in the first 12-24 hours. 

Elderberry, Echinacea, C, Zinc / You can take all these individually, but man that sounds like a lot of pills & I don’t do that very well. So I get these lozenges and have them in the house at all times. They are a powerful blend of healing agents - echinacea, zinc, elderberry & Vitamin C to help reduce the duration of disease and prevent illness from taking hold if you catch it early enough. 

Yin Qiao San herbs / Best Chinese herbs for warding off illness in the initial stages - I take it at the first signs of a sore throat, especially one that feels swollen, hot, raw, or burning. I take 3 capsules 3x/day. 

Raw Garlic Paste / aka my Warrior Wellness Paste. This stuff probably deserves its own post. I mix together 2 cloves of mashed raw garlic, 1 inch of raw grated ginger, 1 big Tbsp raw honey, & ½ tsp turmeric powder into a paste. I use 1 tsp of this paste in a mug of 1 C hot water (I actually put it inside a teaball and pour the water over it like making tea - that way it is pre-strained and you don’t have bits of garlic floating in your mug) and add the juice of ½ lemon to it. I drink this 2x day until the paste is gone. 

What are your self-care rituals? Would love to hear your tried & true remedies! 

Butter Mints

The concept of a butter-mint may sound crazy to some of you… mints made out of butter. Yes, pure butter! There are some recipes that call for a mix of butter & coconut oil or coconut butter… but I prefer the plain old, grass-fed butter variation that lends itself to a very silky, melty texture and pure taste of mint (instead of coconut-mint). But, what the heck are butter mints anyway? Right. Well, they are just little dollops of flavored butter, basically. In this case, flavored with peppermint extract, a bit of raw honey, sea salt, and some raw cacao powder. Very simple. They look like this:

But, why would you just decide to eat some dollops of butter?? Right. So, say you find yourself craving sugar every day. Or say your child is always asking for cookies or sweets - Butter Mints can be a great alternative to these things. It is impossible to eat many at once (I can’t do more than 3) as they are just dollops of healthy fat going in your belly - which fills you up quite fast as the digestion required to break that down takes a longer time than it does for a cracker or sugar cookie. Fat burns longer than sugar - and it also slows down the absorption of sugar so that you enjoy sustained levels of blood sugar instead of spikes. There have now been many studies that show fat doesn’t make you fat… it’s mainly sugar and excessive simple carbohydrates that do that, but beyond the weight issue, healthy fatty acids from grass-fed butter nourish and fuel our brains, establish good hormone health, and increase good cholesterol. I consider butter an essential food group for kids, especially. Read more about just how healthy butter can be here. I keep a jar of these in the freezer for my toddler (and myself too, let’s be honest) and he eats them as “special treats” often - because they are delicious! So, now that you are convinced it’s worth a try, here’s the recipe:

Pure Butter Mints:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), organic grass-fed butter is the healthiest! 
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. raw honey
  • Small pinch of unrefined sea salt
  • Optional: 1 Tbs. cacao powder for a chocolate version

Bring butter to room temperature, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula until silky smooth and completely mixed. Place butter mixture into a plastic bag or pastry bag and use a pastry tip to squeeze nickel-sized dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or just cut the corner end off of your plastic bag). Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set - store in a glass jar in the freezer and eat chilled! 

Summer Corn with Umeboshi

Looking for a new way to jazz up all that corn on the cob your family is eating this summer? We love ours grilled and charred with olive oil and salt, Mexican-style with chili powder, cilantro, and lime, and also this way - with a smear of umeboshi paste and gomasio on top. It’s just as easy as anything to make, and chances are you have NO idea the benefits of eating this intensely pickled, funny sounding Japanese plum - it’s great to have an easy way of incorporating them into such an American staple. 

Food Facts: Umeboshi Plums (or plum paste)

Umeboshi salt plums are extremely sour and salty. They are commonly called “Japanese alka seltzer” because of their common use in treating digestive upset. They are highly alkalizing and can help with indigestion, diarrhea, liver issues, fatigue, the elimination of toxins and even worms! Because of their action on the liver, they have also gotten a popular reputation as a hangover cure. You can buy them whole or commonly as vinegars or pastes. One umeboshi plum a day = the apple of the East! 

Summer corn with Umeboshi

Fresh corn, kept on the cob

2 Tbsp umeboshi paste

1 splash Mirin rice wine

Gomasio (a sesame seed and sea salt mixture) or toasted sesame seeds

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Grill or steam corn to desired doneness. While your corn is cooking, mix umeboshi paste with a splash of mirin and stir/whisk together to thin the paste - you may need a splash of water as well to taste. Umeboshi paste is VERY strong, so thinning it out makes the flavor less punchy and adding the wine will balance a little sweetness into the paste. Spread a thin layer over each cob, top with gomasio sprinkles or sesame seeds and cayenne for kick. 

Breakfast Nut Muffins

I’ve been eating eggs for breakfast for like… ever. Especially while pregnant, I’m always looking for more ways to add protein and healthy fat into my daily meals so I can stay energized while eating for two. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of having some morning eggs, toast, and fruit in our household. This meal has been ingrained in me since childhood! Not to say there is anything inherently wrong with bread and fruit… but they are not protein-rich and tend to lead to energy crashes if it’s the only thing you eat in the morning. To better balance your hormones and energy - we need protein and healthy fat to start the day. I tried out these nut flour muffins this week and have to say, although they don’t feel like a classic muffin, they are tasty and much healthier for you (gluten free as well!) than toast with jam. Try ‘em out with your eggs and a side of wild boar sausage for a mega-fueled breakfast of champions! 

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Nut Flour Muffins:

1 ½ cups raw, organic nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and/or pecans)

¼ cup maple syrup

3 eggs from pastured chickens

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a blender (VitaMix is best), grind nuts until flour-like consistency; use a spatula to scrape sides if it becomes sticky. Add maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt and blend together until there is a smooth consistency.

Pour into sprayed or buttered muffin pan. Bake ~12 minutes, until golden brown and your toothpick comes out clean. Slather generously with grass-fed butter and enjoy hot! Makes 6 standard-sized muffins.